As if news of the Digital Communications Commission (DCC) confirming the Rs 3050 crore fine wasnâ€™t enough, comes news that the telecom companies have had to pay penalties for call drops etc. in 2018. Though the overall amount of Rs 2.6 crore for three quarters in 2018 does not sound significant, this revelation in Parliament further confirms that these companies are not having a great time.
The DCC recently upheld the 2016 order of the TRAI which imposed a penalty of Rs 3,050 crore on Vodafone Idea and Airtel for not providing sufficient interconnection ports at their end so that the calls from Jio customers to customers of these established players could be allowed to go through.
The information on the fines imposed for deficiencies in service, in line with the fresh set of regulations announced by the TRAI with effect from October 2017, was provided by Ravi Shankar Prasad, the minister handling the telecommunications portfolio.
Giving out the details in a reply to a question in Parliament by a member, the minister said Vodafone topped the list with a fine of Rs 1.56 crore, Aircel came next with Rs 50 lakh and Rs 29.5 lakh fine was imposed on Tata Teleservices. Even the government-owned BSNL was not spared and had to cough up Rs 13 lakh as fine. Telenor too was fined an identical amount of Rs 13 lakh. All these figures relate to the 3-quarter period October 1, 2017 till June 30, 2018.
The ministerâ€™s reply said besides call drops there were other cases of non-compliance with the benchmarks for quality of various service parameters identified while imposing these fines.
In another reply in the House, the Telecom minister said that TRAI has found that the companies offering telecommunications services in the country were by and large in compliance with the licence terms as well as the parameters set by the regulator. The minister said this was based on the Performance Monitoring Report (PMR) submitted by the TRAI up to September 2018.
The only cases of non-compliance came from 18 telecom circles being serviced by Tata Teleservices, 15 of Idea and five of Vodafone and a lone circle with RJio. The other two operators, Airtel and BSNL, had three circles each from where non-compliance reports have been generated.
The picture may change for the period after this as there has been further consolidation in the sector with Idea merging with Vodafone and Reliance Jio gaining ground.